Did you know?
In Eastern Europe where the "traditional" vampire hails from - the term 'vampire'
was foreign unitl this century!!!! And also it was widely believed [in Eastern
European folk lore] that a vampire would make nightly visits to his widow - and
wear her out with his affections, and it was also believed that such a vampire
could impregnate his widow - and as such the child was considered likely to become
Thanks to Gracia for this....
1. What powers do vampires have?
There are many, many different versions of the vampire myth, both in legend and
in fiction, so just about any ability you could name has probably been
ascribed to vampires at some point.
With that said, here are some of the powers traditionally ascribed to
- The ability to change their shape. Common forms assumed are wolf, bat, rat, cat, owl, fox, weasel, raven, spider, scorpion, and fly.
- Strength far greater than that of humans.
- The ability to summon and control animals, particularly rats and wolves.
- Weather control.
- Seeing in the dark.
- Ability to control the minds of their victims in some way.
Among the traditional limitations and vulnerabilities of vampires are:
- Weakened or harmed by sunlight.
- Unable to cross running water, except at the ebb and flow of the tide.
- Can't enter the home of someone without an invitation.
- Cannot pass a thicket of wild rose or a line of salt.
- Has to stop and count every grain in a pile of grain he/she encounters (type of grain varies).
- Repelled by garlic and/or wolvesbane.
- Repelled/harmed by religious symbols.
- Does not cast a reflection. In some areas, vampires are believed not to show in photographs, and in some, they are believed not to cast shadows.
Methods of destroying a vampire include:
- Immobilized/destroyed by driving a stake through the heart. Some legends say the stake must be of a particular type of wood (generally ash, hawthorne, maple, blackthorn, buckthorn, or aspen), and some say that the stake must be driven through in one blow.
- Cutting off the head. Some legends say this must be done with a gravedigger's shovel.
- Burning; this is the one universal method of destroying vampires.
- Cutting out the heart and burning it.
2. What kinds of vampires are there?
This is a "sampler" of vampire legends from around the world.
- Asanbosam: African.
- Asanbosam are normal vampires except that they have hooks instead of feet. They tend to bite their victims on the thumb.
- Baital: Indian.
- These vampires natural form is that of a half-man, half-bat creature roughly four feet tall. They are otherwise unremarkable.
- Bajang: Malaysian.
- The bajang normally take the form of polecats. They could be enslaved by sorcerors and forced to kill the sorceror's enemies, and some families were believed to be hereditarily stalked by the bajang.
- Baobhan Sith: Scottish.
- The baobhan sith (pronounced buh-van she) are evil fairys who appear as beautiful young women and will dance with men they find until the men are exhausted, and then feed on them. The baobhan sith can be harmed and destroyed by cold iron.
- Callicantzaros: Ancient Greece.
- According to Greek legend, a child born on Christmas will become a callicantzaros. These vampires often appear in half-human, half-animal shapes.
- Ch'ing Shih: Chinese.
- Ch'ing shih appear livid and may kill with poisonous breath in addition to draining blood. If a Ch'ing Shih encounters a pile of rice, it must count the grains before it can pass the pile. They can be harmed and destroyed by normal weapons and by sunlight. Their immaterial form is a glowing sphere of light, much like a will-o'-the-wisp.
- Civateteo: Mexican.
- These vampire-witches held sabbaths at crossroads and were believed to attack young children and to mate with human men, producing children who were also vampires.They were believed to be linked to the god Tezcatlipoca.
- Dearg-due: Irish.
- The dearg-due is a standard European vampire, except that it cannot shapeshift and may be defeated by building a cairn of stones over its grave.
- Empusa: Ancient Greece and Rome.
- Empusas appear as either beautiful women or ancient hags. They are strongly related to the incubi and succubi.
- Ekimmu: Assyrian.
- These are vampires of the spirit variety. They are naturally invisible and are capable of possessing humans. They can be destroyed by using wooden weapons or by exorcism.
- Hanh Saburo: Indian.
- These creatures live in forests and can control dogs. They will attempt to lure or drive travellers into the forest to attack them.
- Incubus: European.
- Incubi (plural of incubus) are sexual vampires. They are spirit vampires of a demonic nature. They may enter homes uninvited and can take on the appearance of other persons. They will often visit the same victim repeatedly. A victim of an incubus will experience the visits as dreams. The female version of an incubus is a succubus.
- Jaracara: Brazilian.
- Normally appearing as snakes, jaracara are said to drink the milk of sleeping women as well as their blood.
- Krvopijac: Bulgarian.
- Krvopijacs (also known as obours) look like normal vampires except that they have only one nostril. They can be immobilized by placing wild roses around their graves. One way to destroy a krvopijac is for a magician to order its spirit into a bottle, which must then be thrown into a fire.
- Lamia: Ancient Greece and Rome.
- Lamias are exclusively female vampires. They often appear in half-human, half-animal forms and eat the flesh of their victims in addition to drinking their blood. Lamias can be attacked and killed with normal weapons.
- Loogaro: West Indies.
- Appearing as old women, these vampires go abroad at night as blobs of light, much like the will-o'-the-wisp.
- Mulo: Serbian.
- Mulos normally appear as people wearing white clothes. They are active both day and night, and can assume the shapes of horses or sheep. They eat their victims in addition to drinking their blood. Mulos are also known as Vlokoslak.
- Nachzerer: German.
- These are ghosts of the recently dead which return to kill their families.
- Nosferatu: Central and Eastern European.
- The "traditional" vampire described in Dracula. Most vampires appearing in movies and books are of this sort.
- Rakshasa: Indian.
- The Rakshasas are powerful vampires of the spirit variety. They usually appear as humans with animal features (claws, fangs, slitted eyes, etc.) or as animals with human features (flattened noses, hands, etc.). They often appear as tigers. In any form, rakshasas are powerful magicians. They eat the flesh of their victims in addition to drinking blood. Rakshasas may be destroyed by burning, sunlight, or exorcism.
- Strige: Eastern European.
- These are "birds of ill omen" who will attack people at night, with a whole flock of strigoi sometimes attacking a single victim. The strigoi use their long, sharp beaks to peck holes in their victims and drink their blood.
- Vampyr: Serbian.
- The vampyr is naturally invisible, but can be seen by animals or by a dhampir. A dhampir is the (living) offspring of a vampyr, and is capable of seeing vampyrs and of harming them physically. Dhampirs would often hire out to destroy vampyrs. Vampyrs cannot shapeshift.
- Vrykolakas: Medieval Greece.
- Described as being "swollen" and "distended," Vrykolakas can walk in daylight without being harmed. The vrykolakas may only call to be let into a specific house once a night. In addition to sucking blood, vrykolakas also cause nightmares. They may be destroyed by exorcism or burning. In Crete, they are called Kathakano.
- Wampir: Polish and Russian.
- Wampiri appear exactly as humans and have a "sting" under their tongue rather than fangs. They are active from noon until midnight. A wampir may only be destroyed by burning. When the wampir is burned, its body will burst, giving rise to hundreds of small, disgusting animals (maggots, rats, etc.). If any of these escape, then the wampir's "spirit" will escape as well, and will later return to seek revenge. These creatures are also called vieszcy and upierczi.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Some other regional variants on the vampire are:
- Kwakiytl (American Indian),
- lobishomen (Brazilian),
- Murony (Wallachian),
- Otgiruru (African),
- Oupir (Hungarian),
- Owenga (African),
- Strigoi (Romanian),
- Vapir (Bulgarian), and
- varcolac (Romanian).
3. How does one become a vampire?
Again, there are many different versions. Some of these are listed below:
excommunication, dying unbaptized/apostate, or anything else that puts one "outside of the church."
being a wizard/witch
having been a werewolf
your parents cursing you, "May the earth reject you!"
babies born with teeth or with a caul may become vampires
if a cat or other animal jumps over a corpse before it was buried, it may become a vampire.
anyone with red hair
victims of unavenged murder
the offspring of a woman and a demon or an incubus will become a vampire
anyone bitten by a vampire will become a vampire. In some versions, you have to die from the bite to become a vampire; in others, three bites are necessary
drinking the blood of a vampire will make you a vampire
being born with a caul (sometimes specifically a red caul). In this case, it may be possible to prevent the change by burning the caul and feeding the ashes to the baby.
If it is suspected that someone is likely to become a vampire, it is possible
to prevent the occurrence by using one or more of the methods for destroying
vampires listed above or by burying the suspect body face downwards. In
eastern Europe, it was common to periodically check suspect bodies to
see if they showed any signs of vampirism. Similarly, in China potential
vampires were not buried until after they had decayed considerably.
4. What is porphyria, and why is it called "the vampire disease?"
Porphyria is actually a group of diseases, all of which have to do with
the metabolism of porphyrin, an essential ingredient in metabolising
iron. It is a genetic disorder, and is in no way contagious.
In 1964, in an article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of
Medicine, L. Illis proposed that porphyria might be an explanation for
werewolf legends. More than 20 years later, in 1985, David Dolphin
presented a paper at a meeting of the American Association for
the Advancement of Science proposing that porphyria might be an
explanation for vampire legends.
What about porphyria made them make these statements? One of the
varieties of porphyria, congenital erythropoietic porphyria, has among
its possible symptoms severe light sensitivity, reddish-brown urine and
teeth, mutilation of the nose, ears, eyelids, and fingers, an excess of body
hair, and anemia. In addition, some kinds of porphyria are associated
However, there is no evidence that porphyrics have any sort of craving to
drink blood, and, although it has been conjectured that eating garlic
might be harmful to them, it is not.
In short, the hullaballo over porphyria and vampirism that went on for a
short time was simply a typical media overreaction to anything that might
heighten circulation/ratings. :-)
6. What is a "psychic vampire?"
A psychic vampire is a living person who "drains" others emotionally.
Depending on the version, this may be an empathic drain (i.e., literally
feeding on the emotions of others) or it may be a metaphorical drain
(someone who "takes" emotionally without giving anything back; a "user").
The victims of a psychic vampire become lethargic and depressed, and,
should they be drained too much, may become suicidal.
The vampire itself is generally represented as fairly normal except for
its ability; depending on who you ask, psychic vampires may or may not be
aware of what they do.